As a social worker, I know that developing a relationship with the community has a central role while practicing development work. On every visit I make to the community, I come across many questions which are drawn from my day-to-day interactions with the people I am working. The whole idea of working with and for the community here is to reflect on a broader conception of a community organization. How relationships are nurtured through day-to-day involvement, interaction, and sharing of a sense of belonging to the place, matters greatly (Jodhka 2016: 7). Acceptance and acknowledgement are at first driven by the position both acquired and ascribed by us as social workers. A sense of relationship and building trust are defined around power relations, politics, and access to knowledge and information. As an AIF Clinton Fellow working in collaboration with the host organisation, which has a long history of grassroots engagement in the region, I’ve acquired an important learning which I intend to share here. In order to get more deeper into understanding how such relationships, rapport, and trust has been developed by the organisation, it’s important to share the lived experiences of both the community as well as the field staff working with the people.
My Host Organisation: Lokadrusti
As a grassroots organisation committed to creating an enabling environment for social change to empower the powerless and downtrodden, Lokadrusti is working directly and indirectly with various stakeholders. This includes working at the village, district, state, national as well as international level as part of their many collaborations. The organisation has initiated many successful intervention strategies, keeping in view the needs and requirement of the community and the target groups. Lokadrusti’s interventions center around children, women, youth, and members from socially and economically disadvantaged, distressed migration affected communities in Western Odisha.
Engagement with the Community
In all five blocks (Nuapada, Komna, Khariar, Boden and Sinapali) of Nuapada district, the seasonal migration is common among poor families. Taking note of the migration aspect, Lokadrusti has moved forward to work closely with the community to ensure access to educational opportunities for children coming from socially and economically backward sections of the society. The impact of migration is not just limited to the adult members of the family, but it disrupts the lives of children as well, since many of them are accompanied by their families during tjhe move. And in such context, the overall development of child, his/her entitled rights provided by the Constitution, are beyond access. The vulnerability and sense of insecurity, lack of care and support, and inability to access the educational services becomes a prevalent part of their lives.
“Iss Gaon mein migrate krne wale har parivar se hum personally milke baat karte hai.” “We speak personally to all the families who get migrated to this village”, says Mr. Arif Mohammed, a Lokadrusti staff member who has been working on various initiatives undertaken by organisation since 2011. He works closely with the community to address the educational needs and challenges of the children coming from migration families. Today he shares a good rapport and relationship with the people – this is visible on every field visit. The community acknowledges the efforts and action that have been defined over a time in collaboration with Lokadrusti.
- Government of Maharashtra & UNICEF (2017). “A Report on the Interstate Consultation on Migration and Children: From Practice to Policy”. Proceedings of the Synergies, Strategies and Systems for Migration-Affected Children Conference, Sept 20th, 2017. Mumbai: Government of Maharashtra and UNICEF, n.p.
- Jodhka, Surinder S. (2016). “Revisiting the Rural in 21st Century India”. Economic and Political Weekly 51 (26-27), p. 5-7. Accessed at: www.researchgate.net/publication/305324553_Revisiting_the_Rural_in_21st_Century_India.